Industrial Design

During one of the first classes of my undergrad tenure, our professor decided to give up the first 10 minutes of lecture so that a professor from another department could speak. This guest speaker was from the school of Industrial Design on campus. He was making a sales pitch to the throng of wanna-be Engineers sitting in an entry level engineering class (dynamics? calculus? I can’t recall). He was telling us that there was an opportunity to dual major in Engineering and Industrial Design. All we needed to do was take a healthy dose of art classes. There was an audible chuckle in the room and a lot of eye-rolling and hand wringing. He thanked us for our time and walked out. We laughed and got on with business of learning to think. Then, as now, the idea that an Engineer could be both technical and creative was absurd.

Of course, now I look back and think about the opportunity I had that I just let slip away. I could have easily sprinkled in a few art classes on top of what I was already studying. Not only would have found my passion for art a few years earlier, but I might have had a completely different shift in my career goals. Plus, the perspective could have really changed my view of the world.

What’s wrong with having a creative vision for a product while also understanding the technical and business details that would make that product manufacturability, marketable, and profitable? Why aren’t more artists dual majoring in Engineering? Why is there still some artificial divide between these two camps?

When you have moment, check out the Industrial Designers Society of America design excellence awards. There are some beautiful, and useful, products shown there.